GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Mourners gathered Friday at the funeral for Patrick Lyoya, a Black man who was fatally shot in the back of the head after a traffic stop and struggle with a white police officer in Michigan.
Civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy at the family’s request. Their lawyer, prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, also will speak at Renaissance Church of God in Christ in Grand Rapids.
Lyoya’s funeral marks the most recent time that Sharpton and Crump have joined with mourners to speak at the funeral of a Black person killed by police. Sharpton’s eulogies have included those for George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis sparked a national reckoning on race; Daunte Wright, who was shot during a traffic stop in suburban Minneapolis; Andre Hill, who was killed in Columbus, Ohio; and Andrew Brown Jr., who was killed in North Carolina.
A few dozen people were outside the Grand Rapids church on Friday morning, waiting to enter before the services began. Nearby, black T-shirts were being handed out to mourners as they approached the building. The shirts read “Justice For Patrick Lyoya” on one side and “It’s our Right to Live!” on the other.
An unarmed Lyoya, a native of Congo, was face down on the ground when he was shot April 4. The officer, whose name has not been released, was on top of him and can be heard on video demanding that he take his hand off the officer’s Taser.
Earlier, the officer is heard saying that the license plate did not match the car Lyoya had been driving. Lyoya, a 26-year-old father of two, declined to get back into the vehicle as ordered, and a short foot chase ensued before the deadly struggle.
On Thursday, Peter and Dorcas Lyoya joined protesters in Lansing for a march and rally, where the call was renewed for authorities to release the name of the officer who killed their son.
State police are investigating the shooting. The agency will forward findings to Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker for consideration of any charges. He has told the public to not expect a quick decision.
Attorneys for the Lyoya family have said they believe video collected and released by police shows was resisting the officer, not fighting him. His parents have called the shooting an “execution.”